This blog will chronicle the life and training of Heavymetal Thunder (aka Saxon), a 2009 chestnut Standardbred gelding who didn't have the makings of a racehorse and so will be retrained as a show and pleasure horse. Stay tuned, as we're sure to have lots of great adventures together!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Super Size Me

Ok, ok, I admit that I've let my blogging slip again.  I was able to ride most of the summer (yipee!), and now, as the calendar turns to November, it means the end of  fun season for me and the start of the winter doldrums.  Cue the gray skies, wind, and snowflakes.  Oh, I see Mother Nature has taken care of that already...

So as described in my last post (some, uh, 4 months ago) I was in school for the past two years which definitely put a crimp on my riding and training plans during that timeframe.  More than simply being a pasture-puff, Saxon found a way to keep himself occupied - growing.  I don't know if it's the nearly unlimited Kentucky grass, the double handful of daily "pity grain" + hoof supplement, or some sort of super-hero back story-esque radioactive growth hormone he procured from some exotic source, but he. just. won't. stop. growing.

At the start of our journey, my red-headed friend was a svelte 975# (racing fit), 15.3hh 3 year old.  In a few months he will mark his sixth birthday, and he now tips the scales (or rather, swells the weight tape) to 1,250# and stands 16.1 hh.  Even at this hefty figure, there's scarcely a bit of fat on him, though, and with his compact, solid, and muscular build, he has the imposing appearance of an even larger horse.  He is often mistaken for a Warmblood, and could likely even pass for a draft cross with his solid bone and build (and giant size 2 feet).  I, on the other hand, stopped growing some years ago, and my 5'4" self replete with bum leg cannot get on him from the ground without some degree of swearing, contortions, and aggravation of an already suspect leg.

In some sort of cruel trick, the trail class at a recent show called for dismounting, ground tying, and then remounting.  I dropped my stirrups about two holes before entering the ring, but was still largely hanging off the side of him grasping the stirrup in my left hand and trying to jam my left foot into it while trying to spring off the tip of my right toe for what felt like an eternity.   I finally managed to heave back into the saddle as Saxon stood in the middle of the arena sighing with martyrdom and periodically glancing at me with a bemused expression.

It was never my intention to have such a giant horse; indeed, I always wondered why behemoths were so popular in the sport horse world, particularly in the dressage ring where it seems to me that a 10 m circle would be far easier for a 15.2 hh horse to execute than a 17.2 hh giant.  Sub-16 hh is more my style, but fate did not work that way in this case.  (But no, I am NOT interested in trading your smaller horse for my gentle red-headed giant!  This one's mine!)

Besides the need to get creative for mounting up (mounting blocks, my front porch steps, truck bumpers, fence planks, tree stumps - we've used it all), there's another downside to my incredible expando-horse...  Thank goodness we've already addressed the trailering issue; my trailer is an extra tall and with a 7'6" high roofline, and he remains comfortable in it (for now).  My tack, on the other hand...  I've already had to purchase a larger western cinch.  My old 32" model left more latigo than cinch encircling his barrel.  The new 36" is a better fit.  I have to buckle my 50" English girth on the very last hole to get it started, before I can slowly ratchet it up another hole or two to get it tight.  Ditto for the dressage girth.  My harness is on the very last hole on most of the adjustments.  But my old 76" horse blankets fit him fabulously.  Until this year.  He now measures 81".  Sheesh.  If he keeps growing at this rate I'll just have to fashion his blankets out of  army tents!  Thankfully he still eats like a 975# horse, or he'd likely have to share his space under those army tents with all of the extra hay I'd have to purchase and store!  Sometimes I think Clifford (the big red dog) or Bullwinkle (the moose) would have been more suitable barn names for him.

So as Saxon prepares to blow out his six candles next year, I have a wish for him.  Please, pretty please I wish you'd stop growing!  But no matter what his size, he's still my big loveable, Redheaded Standardbred.     

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